Soccer Shots with Dad

Several months ago James saw the 2-year-old Soccer Shots kids playing at the park and insisted we sign Annie up when the time came. I followed up with him and told him this was going to be his baby. I feel like we've got a pretty jam packed schedule these days and worried about adding one more thing. We really don't want Annie to be an over scheduled kid. Since all of her other lessons are only 20-30 minutes along we decided to roll with it. And I am so glad we did. It is the perfect Saturday morning outing for James and Annie. I absolutely love watching them head out together (sometimes I tag along) with tennis shoes, snacks and a water bottle. I have had visions of James being the perfect soccer coach one day and I can already see it coming to life. It also gets us out of the house in the morning at the perfect time and helps us not waste the day. Of course, it's mostly just 2-year-olds running around in circles, but it's been great for her to learn to listen and gain confidence away from Mom and Dad on the "field." She talks about soccer with Dad all week long and is always thrilled come Saturday morning. This is the good stuff in life, people. Saturday morning soccer. 

August According to my iPhone

While my Mom was in town James flew to Seattle for Mike and Molly's wedding. He really liked Seattle and was really glad he was there to show support to his bestie (my word, not his) Mike. Sounds like it was a gorgeous reception and I am so sad I missed it.

Annie insisted on putting this band-aid here. I am still laughing.

We started swim at Charlotte Swim Academy again. We have a new teacher but Annie loves it just the same. She's making slow but steady progress.

I bought a few new things on sale for our little home and had to try and stuff them in, while pregnant, throwing up and with a 2 year old. Lets just say it was really interesting. Sure glad my Mom came to save me for the rest of settling.

We had an ultrasound and saw our little peanut. This may have been in july, I can't remember. But it was sure a welcome sight to see that gorgeous babe inside.

We had fun exploring our new neighborhood on the scoot, scoot.

My amazing friend Rachel brought me a nausea-fixing stash complete with diet coke, saltines and the works. It was all I ate for a week and I was SO thankful.

Annie loves doing the dishes on her ladder. 

At about 12-13 weeks. Already a bump. I've decided I am consistently about 6-7 weeks ahead of where I was with Annie size wise. Fairly certain I looked like this at 19 or 20 weeks last time. But I'll take it. Give me that big round belly. I am ready for it!

Annie has really taken to "crafting" in the last couple of months. She will sit at the table for ages while I work on stuff in the kitchen. It sure makes my job nice. Minus the giant mess.

She's also discovered a love for sprinkles. Yikes!

Still taking lots and lots of naps and watching too many shows. Much more exhaustion this go around.

And enjoying our last week at the splashads before they closed. This is a good life.


Annie's First Day of (Joy) School

A few ladies in our ward and surrounding wards invited us to be a part of their co-op preschool. We aren't doing the exact Joy School curriculum, but I seem to call it that anyway. Each day we do a letter and are working our way through the alphabet. One of the darling Mom's bought all of the kids a carpet  square to sit on, a school box full of markers, scissors and glue and then put together a little board with the calendar, weather, and letter of the day. She did an amazing job and the whole thing wound up costing each of us $5. It's on Tuesdays and Thursdays and Annie absolutely LOVES it. 

I was a bit nervous as she is definitely the youngest and smallest in the group. In the beginning, her vocabulary was still growing and she had a very difficult time talking to other kids and adults. I was worried that she'd be so nervous to tell them she needed to go potty that she'd just have accidents. But as luck would have it, this little co-op preschool has been the best warm up for my little Annie. I highly recommend this system. Since these Moms and kids are often around us at church and playgroup, Annie has felt completely comfortable in their homes. She's had to learn how to sit in a circle for story time and has watched and listened as other kids have talked to adults. We are just 2 months in and I am now suddenly worried that Annie is overly excited and jabbers the entire time at "school." Last week one of the other little girls finally said, "Annie, I can't hear!" during story time as Annie commented on every picture and page. It's hilarious - all you want is for your kid to learn to speak in social settings and then all the sudden all you want is for them to learn how to listen. Instead of insisting she talks to her teacher and the other kids I now find myself preaching sharing, listening and holding her body still (that last one has always been difficult for my mover and shaker). I have loved watching her be kind to her new friends. She adores them and I do think she is always concerned with the well being of others. When I remind her to share and explain why, she is usually quick to return a toy and apologize. It's been really fun to see. Though she is a bit fiery in her vocabulary and body movements, this girl is sweet in spirit. And I wouldn't have it any other way. She loves her friends and family.

I picked Annie and Parker up after their first day of school and nearly died when the teacher handed me these paintings. Annie ADORES Parker and often says he and Taylor are her best friends. Parker is sweet and reserved and very well put together. You can definitely see the difference in their artistic senses/personality in this picture. James was hilarious, worrying that we needed to work on this. But I couldn't help think of the book the Little Prince, and how parents often squash kids imagination when they tell them their art is wrong. So I told her it was beautiful. I am still laughing about the contrasting pictures. Oh, Annie girl, you never cease to make me laugh!

We are so grateful for our little co-op. I am especially grateful for the free 5 hours each week to run errands, go to the gym etc. It's been a huge blessing for both me and Annie!

Barker, Party of 4

I always love sharing the news that another baby is on the way. I originally wanted to spell out BABY with these cute balloons to announce my pregnancy. But when I discovered they are $10 a pop, I figured a $40 announcement might be a little over the top. So, Barker, Party of 4 was born. It actually fit us quite well since planning parties is kind of my deal. We found this fun wall in Charlotte and convinced our darling 13 year old babysitter to be our photographer before our date night. I am sure she thought we were crazy.

It was a really fun night for me and James. We announced we were expecting (I was about 14 weeks here) and loved the flurry of texts and congrats that came in from dear friends as we were on our date night. It's always great to reconnect, and wonderful friends are such a huge part of our family and relationship as a couple. We went to a new taco place around the corner from our new home called Bakersfield that we absolutely fell in love with. And then headed to the mall for some paroozing while we chatted about our growing family. 

We couldn't be more excited for this little baby. It's been a much different experience this time. James could hardly wait to add another to our family and probably would have done it ages ago. I was worried as I already have my hands full with our bouncing, babbling, busy Annie. I really want to be able to bond with each child. But since the very first day I was pregnant, I have felt so calm. Almost too calm at times. With Annie I worried about every little feeling I had. I felt so connected to her from the very, very first second. With this one it's been a little more slow and steady as I've warmed up to the idea and started to feel those little kicks. Calm (and a bit sleepy) is the only way I can describe this pregnancy. Annie's was more of a roller coaster (a very fun one of course). I can't help but think it is because Annie herself is a roller coaster and this baby might just be the calm, sweet baby we are hoping for. Wishful thinking? Either way, we are loving this change of pace, hearing that this baby is measuring "big" from day one and sensing this babies unique spirit already in our home. Baby Barker, we can't wait for February/March when you arrive!


Hilton Head Island Barker Family Vaca 2014

We look forward to the Barker family vaca all year long. We are lucky enough that this has all come together the past 2 years. Hilton Head is just a hop-skip and a jump away for us, making it especially easy for our little family. My favorite day is always day one. Seeing Annie light up at the beach and reuniting with family is just the best. I couldn't resist letting Annie wear her Salty Dog Cafe shirt from the year before. When she started to prance n the ocean at sunset, I just let it happen. Soaking wet underwear and all. Every kid deserves to jump in, feet first, if you ask me. It was picturesque and perfect.

Once everyone arrived we finally let the secret out of the bag. For those who don't know, the Barkers are Diet Coke lovers. I mean, you've never seen Diet Coke fans like this before. So James and I came up with the idea to use the Share a Coke ad campaign to announce we were pregnant to the family. I printed up some Baby Barker #2 labels and we glued them on during the drive down. James handed Jim a DC and his first response was "why would I want this one? It's not cold?" As if James was playing a joke on him. It was classic Jim and James banter. James said, "just keep it" and then he passed one to his Mom and everyone else. Mostly they had confused looks on their face until finally Ann saw the label and just started saying "oh, oh, oh, oh my gosh!" It was so fun! Everyone was so surprised and I was thrilled to have the the secret out, since I was about 13 weeks and still throwing up. It was especially fun since I had found out I was pregnant about 8 weeks earlier, after feeling queazy on the Virginia windy roads. Every time I am in Virginia I comment on having to watch the road. It's like a roller coaster in those trees. But this time was especially bad and I took a pregnancy test the second we got home. They loved hearing how we found out and it was fun way to kick off the trip.

The rest of the trip is kind of a blur as far as what activities fell on which days. So I'll just put it all together. Annie was in her element at the beach.The girl just runs straight on in, giving the Barkers quite the scare. I never thought I'd let my kids be so daring, but I feel so at easy about it all somehow. She wore her puddle jumper and would wade pretty far out without even hesitating. I am starting to love east coast beaches more than the west coat beaches (don't tell our beloved Newport). The water is so darn warm and calm. It's like swimming in a tub. It did make me a little nervous as we started to notice jellyfish floating on shore. I read up on them a little and decided, what the heck! I knew it would be difficult to keep Annie out of the water all week so I thought it was worth the risk. Sure enough, she was the one to get stung. Poor girl! She was so so brave. I scraped it off with a credit card like we had read (I wished I would have bought vinegar) and let the saltwater flush over it. She whimpered on my lap in the water for about 30 minutes, fell asleep and woke up completely fine. She still talks about the jellyfish stinging her leg, how Mom pulled the sting out and gave her chocolate to feel better. Teaching her young.

Nana and Allison helped distract her from tantrums a few times. She loved being wrapped up like a mermaid.

I was in my happy place!

We went to the Barker family favorite restaurants on the island! My personal favorite is Salty Dog, not for the food, but just the atmosphere. We always ride our bikes down from the house. This year Annie had a bike trailer and it was a blast. She would shout at us to race each other. Such a hoot. She was a little unsure of Jake the Dog at first but quickly warmed right up to him. James and Annie enjoyed several different runs to the Salty Dog Ice Cream shop together. On one particular run there was a man playing the guitar on the little stage and Annie went up front to dance. At the end of the song he yelled at "Dad" aka James to come up front and told him that Annie had won the dance competition. He gave her a little light up ring that of course had to be pried from her possession at bedtime because it lit up the whole room. But she was so proud of the ring. What a treasure.

Allison, Lizzie, Katie and I went to beach yoga twice during the week. It was so relaxing and actually much more challenging on the beach than in a studio. I am still dreaming of those yoga sessions.

James painted Annie's nails on the patio. I treasure this week mostly for the time we get to spend with James. Its such  rarity that we get to see him so much and this week was especially amazing. Life seemed to all make sense this week as we talked about our future on the drive down. It was a week of blessings for our little family.

Annie and I always went out for morning adventures on Dad's day to sleep in. We rotated who got to sleep in on the trip. Though I think I wound up waking up early most of the time (love you anyway james, wink wink). I didn't mind much because I really enjoyed our bike rides along the beach in Hilton Head. That's my favorite feature of the island, the packed sand allows you to ride your bike right along the water. I missed my long runs from the year before (when I was training for the 1/2 marathon) but enjoyed the slower paced bike rides and yoga sessions near the water.


Probably the biggest highlight this year was going on the catamaran for a couple of hours with just our family. Since our group was so large we took up the entire boat, and no other groups signed up. The captain and his mate were super fun to talk to and even let the kids try steering for awhile. They took us around to see the private island and we saw lots and lots of dolphins. It was one of my all time favorite times with the Barker family. Everyone was so happy to be together, at ease and the setting could't have been more perfect 

 James always really looks forward to golfing with his Dad. It's such a special time for them and I am so glad that they have this special bond. James decided to splurge and play on one of the top public courses in the country that happens to be in Hilton Head. This guys refuses to even buy himself new socks, so I am so glad he finally pampered himself for a few hours that afternoon. I love seeing this guy happy.

We took family pictures on our last day all together (those are coming soon) and Allison took this as we left the harbor that night. Hilton Head has really become a favorite place of mine. I am so thankful for my wonderful Barker family. We can't thank Jim and Ann enough for this incredible vacation full of fun memories, tasty food and good family time. It was a week to remember!

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